Video Lottery Warnings Ignored by Health Minister
By staff
A former Canadian Health Minister allegedly dismissed concerns that new video lottery terminals are more addictive than the machines they replaced. The new video lottery machines were introduced in 2001, whilst Jamie Muir was still Health Minister.

The province introduced a total of 3,200 new VLTs designed to slow and stop play. Inbuilt clocks gave players the time and the machines even reminded users how lonf they had been playing. However after a set period of time the VLTs were programmed to give a mandatory pay out.

It wasnít until March 2002 that CBC Radio was leaked a memo that made it clear that the new machines were considered a problem and that Muir was aware. John LaRocque, the Health Departmentís addiction gambling services co-ordinator, explained in the memo that there would likely be a considerable increase in the number of VLT players and a strong risk of new players becoming problem gamblers.

Bill Estabrooks, NDP gaming critic, believes that Muir gave higher priority to the money that would be generated by the VLTs. Between 2002 and 2003 the machines are estimated to generate a $130 million profit for the province.

Estabrooks: ďItís just inexcusable. These machines are a problem, yet the minister responsible says, ĎIím not going to pay attention to that advice. Instead, Iím going to initiate the public-relations campaign.í Thatís just reprehensible.Ē

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